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    NMCP’s Chapel Transforms into ‘Chapel of Comfort’

    NMCP’s Chapel Transforms into ‘Chapel of Comfort’

    Photo By Rebecca Perron | 180720-N-GM597-027 Portsmouth, Va. (July 20, 2018) With the sixth stained glass window...... read more read more



    Story by Rebecca Perron 

    Naval Medical Center - Portsmouth

    The last of six stained glass windows was installed in Naval Medical Center Portsmouth’s (NMCP) chapel July 20, marking another step toward the completion of its transformation into the “Chapel of Comfort.”

    The chaplains wanted to create an environment with greater spirituality for NMCP’s chapel, while at the same time they were working on improvements to the chapel on board USNS Comfort. The chaplains were inspired by the staff who attended meetings in NMCP’s chapel prior to participating in Comfort Exercises (Comfex) in 2017.

    “We hosted meetings in the chapel for staff who were going on Comfexes and other missions,” said Cmdr. Michael Chaney, NMCP’s deputy command chaplain. “We observed that people walked in unsure of what would be happening, and we thought, what can we do here to make a connection and make our mission more apparent, make our mission statement more resilient in light of everything we have pushing at us every day.”

    Chaney and his team worked to design six stained glass windows that could be potentially duplicated and installed in both chapels. The first set of the six windows was made and installed on the Comfort in 2017, while a duplicate set was made and installed in NMCP’s chapel this year.

    “The Comfort chapel was a white room, and last year, we were working with the commanding officer Capt. Lanny Boswell and we asked if we could to do something with the chapel,” Chaney said. “We suggested stained glass. I asked RP3 Caleb Phillips, who was getting out in a few months to go to the San Francisco School of Art, to create some of the designs. He agreed, and asked what I wanted.

    “I said, give me the ship coming toward us with hopeful words on the sides and the top,” Chaney continued. “And maybe the ship going to port and starboard for the side pieces. And he came up with the three panels that are the central part of it. When you first walk into the chapel on the ship, you see the same three.”

    While the stained glass windows at NMCP are filtering sunlight, the windows on Comfort are LED-lit. The other three windows are just as significant.

    “The hands being held together is a symbol that is painted on the roads and on buildings when the Comfort deploys to South America,” Chaney said. “It symbolizes us working together. The fifth piece is the globe piece and has the names of all of the hospital ships from 1941 on.”

    The five designs created by Phillips were then given to Bill and Sue Miller who own Shining Light Stained Glass in Poquoson, Virginia. The have owned the stained glass company since 2006 and this is only their second project commissioned for Navy commands.

    Sue said that each of the five drawings completed by Phillips were modified slightly to adapt them to the stained glass medium, including designing points within the glass sections and adding more words to the sunrays in the center panel.

    “This is probably the biggest project we have done,” Sue said. “We tried some new techniques and getting everything coordinated was a bigger effort than what I normally do. This was an honor to do, and it was really good to see the vision come together.”

    The final design was selected by Chaney after speaking with Sue about the possibility of a light house.

    “I suggested a light house and she asked what kind,” Chaney said. “I said what about that one, and pointed to a knitted calendar hanging in her shop. She said, ‘you mean the New Point Comfort lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay?’ So we have the New Point Comfort lighthouse on the 6th panel. And we have a sign incorporated in the design so folks don’t think it’s just any lighthouse.”

    When the chaplains were approved to commission the replicas of the six pieces that are on the ship, there became even more possibilities of what they could do to make the entrance more inviting for the NMCP chapel.

    “I was inspired by the command seal and Navy seal on the wall in the commanding officer’s boardroom,” Chaney said. “So we used NMCP’s seal and the crest from Comfort for either side of the door, and then the name Chapel of Comfort is placed over the doorway. We added the benediction, so as you leave, it says Be of Comfort. It all just came together.”

    The Millers started working on the pieces for the NMCP chapel entrance in November. Those were completed and installed in February, and then they started working on the six replica pieces for the NMCP chapel in February.

    Chaney said that they want NMCP’s staff to be inspired to work on the Comfort, and for everyone to be inspired and recognize how important both missions are – serving patients at the medical center and while deployed for missions on board the hospital ship.

    “When they are in here, they aren’t just looking out a window, but they can look at the stained glass and be inspired,” Chaney said. “That not only gives us mission, that gives us hope when we come to work. It gives us a new spiritual possibility when they come here because it’s so pretty and beautiful, and the colors are so extraordinary. But is also talks about a mission of sacrifice that we have individually, coming together as a team, and preparing ourselves every day to be better and be ready to go whenever we have to go. It’s exciting to be part of this.”

    Chaney said they have two more pieces that are yet to be finished and installed, and they will more than likely be hung on the back wall of the chapel. A rededication ceremony is being planned for the end of September.

    As the U. S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, including its nine branch clinics located throughout the Hampton Roads area, additionally offers premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen for future roles in healing and wellness.



    Date Taken: 07.20.2018
    Date Posted: 07.23.2018 11:48
    Story ID: 285309
    Location: PORTSMOUTH, VA, US 

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